Majority of students miss out on Tartu university dormitory places

A cat mural on the site of a University of Tartu dormitory.
A cat mural on the site of a University of Tartu dormitory. Source: Maanus Kullamaa / Tartu 2024

Two-thirds of the students that applied for a place in the University of Tartu's dormitories were rejected due to limited places. Demand vastly outstrips supply.

Tartu Üliõpilasküla accommodation manager Karen Tuul said 850 students submitted applications but 550 were rejected.

This year, all the spots were gone within a few minutes.

"In the very first minutes. The requests came in from 9 a.m. in the morning – requests came in every second. For anyone who realized in the middle of the day, for example, that they hadn't applied yet, it was too late," said Tuul.

Demand has been at approximately the same level for the last four-five years. Tuul said there was a 5 percent rise in applications this year.

Living in a dormitory is far cheaper than renting on the private market. For example, the price of a place in a small double room on Purde tanäv is €70 a month plus utilities.

Future University of Tartu first year student Mattias Minejev told ERR he applied two minutes after the application system opened but he still missed out on a place.

"I woke up especially earlier to be able to submit, but because the site was old-fashioned, the application took a long time to load and a long time to send. I was told that the last person to get a unit was 50 seconds after the applications opened," he said.

Minejev said he now plans to stay with a friend: "I can manage – at least for a while." He is 60th in the queue for a dormitory place.

August Raudvassar, a second-year student at Tartu Health College, told ERR he did not apply for a dormitory spot this year because he knew how hard it would be.

"I'm trying to find some other rental apartment with my friends," he said.

"The biggest concern is whether I will be able to pay the rent. Even though it's split three ways, if I move in with two friends – will I be able to pay it while studying full time?" said Raudvassar.

The university is not planning to build any more dormitories in the next three years as renovations are currently taking place.

Head of the real estate department of the University of Tartu Heiki Pagel said a new building would cost nearly €15 million.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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